The new 5-acre Santana Ranch Park, located between Santana Ranch Street and Fairview Road, includes playgrounds for two different age groups, benches and picnic tables, a large grassy area, a baseball field, basketball half court and restrooms, has remained closed to the public for over three months while waiting for an electrical switch box coming from Texas. That will change soon.
Michael Anderson, Anderson Homes’ vice president of operations, told BenitoLink the park was valued at $3 million. He wanted to transfer the grant deed for the park to the county at the June 28 meeting but was told he wouldn’t be able to do so until August, after the supervisors’ July break. That will now change, said Supervisor Betsy Dirks, whose district includes the Santana Ranch development east of Fairview Road.
Anderson said even though the park will still lack electricity after the county takes it over, it may be open during daylight hours. “I am excited to announce that the park will be opening in early July,” Dirks told BenitoLink. “In light of the continued delay of the electrical switch needed for the park, we worked to find a solution that would allow us to open the park for our community.”
She said the county worked with Anderson Homes to help make the event happen “sooner rather than later.”
“I am looking forward to taking my own kids to the park this summer,” she said. “It’s a beautiful addition not only to Santana Ranch, but the county as a whole.”
Anderson told BenitoLink when the development agreement for Santana Ranch was being negotiated, more parks and recreation opportunities were a top priority for supervisors. A strong interest in more parks was expressed in the Vision 2022 listening sessions held by the Community Foundation for San Benito County in 2012. Soon afterward, R.E.A.C.H., San Benito Parks Foundation, was created to help establish more recreational areas countywide. BenitoLink is currently planning Vision 2032 listening sessions to gather current resident input.
“There was a strong desire to increase the development of new parks locally and provide funding to enhance recreational opportunities,” Anderson said. “Although it is not common in a development agreement for a developer to be required to build parks and pay park fees too, we agreed to both because it was important to the community at that time and would provide great benefits to residents inside and outside of Santana Ranch.”
Anderson said in addition to the park, over the span of the buildout of the development the builder will also pay $4 million in park fees to the county to be used on other county parks. (See the county’s 2010 park master plan.) He said there will also be linear parks and walking trails in the community, like the one that stretches uphill from the end of Sunnyslope Road to Castlerock Drive. He said once the county owns the park it’s up to the supervisors when it will open.
Sidewalks that run along Fairview leading to the park’s western entrance have been completed as work continues to widen Fairview between Sunnyslope and Hillcrest roads. The sidewalk will allow people to walk into the park from the west.
A bus stop has already been built along Fairview Road and Anderson said he has talked with the county to arrange for bus service. There is also a 15-space parking lot inside the development on the eastern side of the park, and parking will be available along Santana Ranch Drive near Rancho Santana Elementary School. There will be no parking along Fairview Road.
“I know the county’s been talking to the sheriff asking if they could patrol after sunset for safety reasons,” said Anderson. “We’re eager to open the park and see people using it.”
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